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But they were interested and excited for me to play Margaret Thatcher both from a political standpoint and artistically too.’ One of the few critics perhaps was the former PM’s daughter Carol, whom Andrea happened to catch on TV.
‘I recognised a shot from the film and Carol Thatcher was there being interviewed by someone and saying what a pile of rubbish she thought it was.
Agents fell over themselves in the scramble to sign her, and in the past few months alone she has added to her extensive list of accolades by winning the Best Actress gongs at both the British Independent Film Awards (where, ironically, she beat Meryl Streep for her portrayal of Thatcher in The comment is telling, not only because hardly anyone in image-conscious Los Angeles admits to riding the bus, but also because few actresses who have completed work on a Tom Cruise blockbuster would be seen dead on one.
‘I like public transport because it’s convenient, and I also get to interact with people who I might not see every day and get to really observe them, rather than whizzing past in a car.’ She once remarked that as a child she used to like watching strangers – a factor which surely helped with her later transition into acting.
‘But there’s no point in being a canvas if you remain blank,’ she says.
‘All I want to do is explore people from all kinds of different backgrounds and situations.
'It was quite a male set, but it’s not really an extraordinary thing because as [an actress] you spend your time with lots of men and that hasn’t really changed since Shakespearean times.
It’s the grim reality – but it’s not so grim because I like men and it was an interesting film to make.’Andrea once remarked that it was Shakespeare, or ‘my friend William’ as she put it, who inspired her to become an actress, and though she can occasionally come across in interviews as somewhat earnest, in person she’s exceedingly warm and friendly.
Eventually, you need to follow your heart, because what’s the point if you can’t share things with somebody?
She had starred in several school plays, ‘although I was a very shy child,’ she says, ‘so for me, it wasn’t about being seen or noticed – I just enjoyed performing and having that rapport with the audience.’By 20, she had won a place at Rada, and, after graduating in 2005, has worked pretty much nonstop.
In 2006 she won the Ian Charleson Award (which recognises exceptional classical stage work from actors under 30) for her performances in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions of Although her parents (father George, a car dealer, and mother Isabel, a secretary) were initially, she says, ‘working-class Thatcherites, they’ve since swung in the opposite direction.
Andrea Riseborough has quietly become one of Britain’s hottest exports, starring alongside the likes of Tom Cruise, Keira Knightley and James Mc Avoy – but still likes to catch the bus.
Lina Das meets a very down-to-earth A-lister Andrea Riseborough has been hailed as the ‘next big thing’ for so many years now, it’s a surprise to discover that this young, ‘upcoming’ actress is actually 31 years old.
We meet in a café near her home in LA’s artsy Los Feliz neighbourhood – or rather one of her temporary homes, given that work has taken her everywhere recently including Louisiana, Vancouver and South Africa.